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Keep up with all things, outdoors, with Big Billy Kinder...

Off Season ConditioningI spent a couple of days earlier this week hunting west Texas quail with a couple of old friends. It was sure great to catch up with those guys, and equally as good working birds with well trained bird dogs. We hunted a ranch that had been left to rest for several years. The quail population hit a big dip and the rancher and I thought it best to just let the birds be, even tho we worked very hard through the years to never over pressure the birds. Bird numbers are back up to a huntable number and so a trip to west TX was in order.

The average lifespan of a bobwhite quail is about 12 months. Every critter under the sun likes to eat quail and quail eggs. Since bobs are ground nesting/roosting birds, they are very vulnerable to predators. Since no one had run a dog or fired a shotgun at a quail in about 4 years, every bird on the nearly 6000 acres was what we call “virgin” birds. Virgin birds will usually sit real tight. They will live up to the name “gentleman bob”. You almost need to stick the toe of your boot into the covey to produce a flush. I was surprised when these birds didn’t act that way. They were spooky. They were getting up in front of the pointed dogs 20-30 yards away, out of shotgun range. After a couple of these long distant rise’s, we remembered one of the first things that we had ever learned about flushing quail. Approach the dog directly into his nose, not his tail. It worked, it always does. Heres why.

1-Spooky birds will usually run from the pointing dog and only take wing as a last resort. Swing around and approach the dogs nose and you trap the birds between yourself and the dogs.

2-When birds are caught in this situation, they will most likely flush higher for safer shots. When you approach the dog from the rear, the escape route for the quail is lower and usually a couple of hard driving bird dogs are chasing. Sometimes just a few feet below the flying birds. Not nearly as safe a shot.

3-You’ve probably spent a lot of time training and tuning your bird dog for this very moment. When you approach him from behind, and pass his head on your way to flush, he will be tempted to go with you. Maybe just a few steps, maybe back ahead of you again. Not what you want. In a field trial that will cost you crucial points, and maybe even get your piece of work discredited completely.

Billy Kinder

January 1, 2015